In this thesis I have looked at how and why characters and gender roles in “women’s films” develop and change over time. I have concentrated on three historical periods which have had a strong impact on both the United States and Hollywood; the Depression, the early cold war years and the aftermath of the cold war. These three periods are also distinct for the woman’s film genre, namely; the “Golden age,” the early television years and the period I see as the woman’s film renaissance. Ten movies from the early 1930s until today are seen against theories of film and gender as well as historical events and tendencies. The movies, which are analyzed and compared, are four American mainstream movies in the “woman’s film” genre and their remakes; Little Women (1933), Show Boat (1936), The Shop around the Corner (1940) and Sabrina (1954). Furthermore, I have looked at the movies’ characters, the relations between them and the actors and actresses behind the characters as well as how they might reflect the ideals or reality of their time. An interesting question is whether or not there is a universal ideal for a hero or heroine. Therefore, as important as it is to look at what changes, it has been interesting to see if some ideals or personalities actually stay the same.